Trump Asks Congress for $4.5 Billion in Emergency Border Funds

Erik Wasson
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Trump Asks Congress for $4.5 Billion in Emergency Border Funds

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s administration will ask Congress for $4.5 billion in emergency border funds, a request the Democratic House may treat skeptically after a dispute over the president’s decision to seize other federal money for his border wall.

The request doesn’t seek more funding for the wall, according to a document obtained by Bloomberg News. The White House says that the Department of Homeland Security is in danger of running out of funds needed to deal with a surge in migration before the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The request includes $3.3 billion to shelter migrants and to process their arrival, $1.1 billion for operations including detention beds and personnel, and $178 million for information technology system upgrades and law enforcement pay adjustments.

"This crisis is threatening lives on both sides of the border and is unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Front-line professionals need additional resources to address this emergency and to continue providing humanitarian protections and care to families and children in United States custody," a fact sheet on the request states.

Trump earlier this year declared an emergency to divert $3.6 billion in military construction funding to build a border wall, following a 35-day partial government shutdown. Congress agreed to provide only $1.4 billion for 55 miles of new construction, far short of the $5.7 billion the president said he needed.

Democrats sued the president over the move and included a provision in next year’s military construction bill to bar such transfers. They have signaled they will treat additional requests skeptically.

Nita Lowey, chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, criticized parts of request while vowing to work with the White House to improve conditions for migrants.

"The Trump administration appears to want much of this $4.5 billion emergency supplemental request to double down on cruel and ill-conceived policies," said Lowey of New York. "We will carefully review the request in its totality and, where possible, work with the Senate and the White House to make conditions at the border more humane.”

A key Senate Republican said she expects Democrats to object. “It’s going to be tough,” said West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who chairs the DHS spending subcommittee.

The administration can’t use money diverted as part of the emergency declaration to address the humanitarian crisis, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters about the proposal on the condition of anonymity. That’s because the Defense Department funding authorities can be stretched to allow military construction but couldn’t legally be used to support refugee children, the official said.

The U.S. might have to scale back services offered to refugees or reallocate funding for refugees and victims of conflict if Congress is unwilling to approve the additional emergency spending, the official added.

(Updates with lawmaker comments starting in seventh paragraph.)

--With assistance from Justin Sink.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Wasson in Washington at ewasson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Joe Sobczyk at jsobczyk@bloomberg.net, Joshua Gallu, Justin Blum

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